20 Feb S2 E8: Literary Scouting: John Bowers Lifts a Tip of the Veil
S2 E8: Literary Scouting: John Bowers Lifts a Tip of the Veil
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
February 20, 2021
Welcome to season 2, episode 8!
After having spoken with editors, agents, translators, and people who work for cultural and governmental organizations that promote books, I’m excited to be talking to a literary scout today.
Scouting is one of the more obscure parts of the international publishing scene. My guest, John Bowers of Sanford J Greenburger Associates, was happy to shed some light on his activities, both pre-covid and during the pandemic.
You’ll hear that there are quite a few differences between the two…
Here are some of the questions I asked John:
- can you give us an idea of what it is that literary scouting entails, or doesn’t entail, and what a typical week in the life of a scout looks like?
- What is your favorite part of working as in literary scouting?
- How many new titles do you read a week, on average?
- What are the specific challenges (and perhaps silver linings?) brought to you by the pandemic?
- How do you feel it has impacted the US market?
- What kind of trends have you noticed in which books appeal to which clients?
- Have you noticed any changes over time in what each client/region is looking for?
- What sorts of things are “red flags” that might hold an otherwise good book back from being able to travel?
- How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the American book world?
- Aside from books themselves, what other important information do your clients rely on you for?
John’s book recommendations:
– Robert Jones Jr., The Prophets (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021)
– N.K. Jemisin, The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky (Orbit, 2015, 2016, 2017)
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, new unabridged audio edition narrated by Andy Serkis (Recorded Books, 2020)
– Ron Chernow, Titan: the Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (Vintage, 2nd ed., 2004)
Driven by a global outlook and cross-cultural understanding, John has found the perfect place to engage his passions in literary scouting. Previous to his work at Greenburger Associates, John worked in foreign rights and as an agent at the Bent Agency, assisted foreign and film scouts, and also taught middle and high school English and Drama in American international schools in Latin America.